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The Art of Personal Narrative

Lawrence Howard and Lynne Duddy of Portland Story Theater offer a workshop series on personal narrative called The Art of Personal Narrative so that people, like you, can learn to express themselves with this amazing art form. Each workshop includes time on stage.

Portland Story Theater building community through story
Photography by Scott Bump © 2012


You must be able to commit to attending all the dates in a workshop series. There are 8 sessions over 5 weeks, all held in NE Portland: 7:00 PM - 10:30 PM.

You are expected to have a passion for the spoken word and a strong desire to tell your personal story. You must have a willingness to discover, craft, and share stories that have meaning for you and resonate with the audience.

You are expected to accept coaching and suggestions from the instructors.

You will be dedicated to creating a story line that the average audience member will readily grasp and follow, without obscure metaphor and symbolism. Respect for the confidentiality of information shared by others during the workshop is of utmost importance.

You must be willing to use your real name and share your story digitally on the internet after the live performance. This entire experience is about being open, honest, and authentic and sharing your story with others.

Enthusiasm for the performance showcase and dedication to building audience by inviting friends, family, and colleagues is vital to your success.

You must attend at least one Urban Tellers, Bridges, or Solo Series show prior to participating in a workshop.

Story Connects Us

Personal narrative breaks down barriers and builds connection between people through story. These stories are told improvisationally using ingenuity and the power of spontaneity. Everyone tells stories. The challenge is to bring enough art to make it more than kitchen-table storytelling.

Rapt listeners at Portland Story Theater
Photoography by Scott Bump © 2013

Discover, Craft, Perform

The Art of Personal Narrative workshop gives participants an opportunity to craft a personal story and deliver it in its true form: naked, fresh, revealing. It's not acting. You're not a character on stage. You're yourself. It's not writing. There's no script. This is narrative, spoken straight from the heart. Only six (6) adults (18+) are eligible to partipate in each workshop.

What to Expect

Each workshop group has eight (8) sessions: four collaborative sessions, an individual coaching session, a tech, the showcase performance and a final debrief session. In every workshop we share insights about finding the stories we need to tell and why we need to tell them, how to use our voices and our bodies, how written stories are different from spoken stories, and how to structure the narrative arc of a story for spoken word delivery.

During the collaborative sessions, themes emerge. People work hard and approach the work with courage, dignity, and humor. We guide each participant through our unique(Urban Tellers™ Process) that we've perfected over the last five years. Personal narratives are created. People learn to trust their stories and speak extemporaneously -- no scripts, no notes, no net. Each person participates in an individual session which is scheduled separately. There is a 'tech night' in the performance space, the showcase performance is at Hipbone Studio, and the final gathering Portland Story Theater's headquarters for celebration and feedback.

Portland Story Theater
The Pacific Northwest's
Premier Storytelling Organization

Curious about the workshop experience? Read Diane Ponti's Tell Me A Story
Workshops $225

$75 non-refundable / non-transferrable deposit required to hold your place.
Call Lynne at 503-284-2226 to register.

Portland Story Theater's home studio
Workshop Studio, Photography by O'Dubhda © 2012


  Urban Tellers
  Wednesdays 4/16, 4/23, 4/30, 5/7
       + an individual session, date TBA
  Thursday 5/8
  Saturday 5/10 (Urban Tellers show)
  Wednesday 5/14


  Urban Tellers
  Tuesdays 5/20, 5/27, 6/3, 6/10
       + an individual session, date TBA
  Thursday 6/12
  Saturday 6/14 (Urban Tellers show)
  Tuesday 6/17


  Urban Tellers
  Mondays 6/16, 6/23, 6/30, 7/7
       + an individual session, date TBA
  Thursday 7/10
  Saturday 7/12 (Urban Tellers show)
  Monday 7/14

New workshop in September, 2014

Participant Perspectives

"I loved it. I believe that personal narratives are the windows into realms of understanding. There is the story and then there is the untold story, all in one. The fabric of our lives is so diverse in color and texture, but underneath we are all made of a warp and weft, and through that, the pattern in peoples lives are revealed and they then become accessible." John

"Everyone has a story, and Lynne and Lawrence are tremendously effective at helping ANYONE bring that story out into the world. Every month their workshops and subsequent performances showcase personal narrative at its best." Julie

"I am struggling to find the words to adequately thank you for your attention to every detail that made the workshop and performance such a phenomenal success on so many levels." Ryan

"What a transformative experience the Urban Tellers workshop and performance was for me... To be able to focus my creative energies on my own story and to steep in the broth of my fellow tellers' work was a precious gift." Sue

"The performances are always amazing, fun, intimate and enlightening. Come as an audience member or come as a workshop participant, either way you will be delighted!" Lori

"Thank you both for your support, the workshop was such a rewarding and growth experience for me. I hope to participate again." Bill

Portland Story Theater, Inc. 2004-2014